Matej Toth and Liu Hong have been voted winners of the race walking category in the first round of voting for the 2015 IAAF World Athlete of the Year award.
Toth won the 50km race walk at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 by a margin of almost two minutes. Earlier in the year, he clocked a Slovak record of 3:34:38, moving to third on the world all-time list.
Liu provided hosts China with their sole gold medal in Beijing, winning the 20km race walk. Two months earlier, Liu broke the world record in that event with a time of 1:24:38.
Last month the IAAF Family* was asked to select nine men and nine women from each of the following categories: sprints, hurdles, middle and long distance, road running, race walking, jumps, throws, combined events and multi-terrain.
The longlist will comprise the top-voted athletes in each category. The candidates from the other categories in the world athlete of the year voting will be announced over the coming days.
An international panel of 10 experts** will then select the finalists – three men and three women – the names of whom will be announced on 17 and 18 November.
*IAAF Family: IAAF & IAF Council members; IAAF national member federations; IAAF Committee & Commission members; IAAF meeting directors; IAAF athlete ambassadors; athletes’ representatives; top athletes; members of the international press; IAAF staff members and the IAAF’s official partners
**The international panel of athletics experts includes representatives from all six continental areas of the IAAF